Hiroshima marks 69th anniversary of atomic bombing


Hiroshima marked the 69th anniversary of the U.S. atomic bombing Wednesday, as survivors of the attack and others gathered at the city’s Peace Memorial Park early in the morning to pay their respects and to attend an annual ceremony commemorating the event.

At the ceremony, held just a few hundred meters from the hypocenter of the bombing, Hiroshima Mayor Kazumi Matsui called on Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government to work to bridge the gap between nuclear weapons states and the rest of the world in the quest for global nuclear disarmament.

While refraining from directly mentioning his stance on collective self-defense, an issue that sharply divides peace advocates, Matsui said that, “precisely because our security situation is increasingly severe, our government should accept the full weight of the fact that we have avoided war for 69 years thanks to the noble pacifism of the Japanese Constitution.”

The anniversary comes ahead of next year’s review of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, the cornerstone of the international nuclear disarmament regime.

Attendees at the ceremony this year included Abe, U.S. Ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy, and representatives from 67 other countries, including nuclear powers Britain, France and Russia, according to city officials.

On Aug. 6, 1945, the U.S. bomber Enola Gay dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, ushering in the nuclear age. The bomb, nicknamed “Little Boy,” detonated at 8:15 a.m. at an altitude of about 600 meters, leaving an estimated 140,000 people dead by the end of the year.

A second atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki on Aug. 9 of that year. Japan surrendered to Allied Forces six days later, bringing an end to World War II.

The number of hibakusha from both bombings living in Japan and abroad stood at 192,719 as of late March, falling below 200,000 for the first time. Their average age was 79.44.

  • Aaron Tovish

    With the average age of the Hibakusha now at 80, that means
    that most of the remaining survivors were less than 11 years old
    when the bomb struck. I think we can all agree that they and the
    over 40,000 children who were killed in 1945 were total innocents,
    underscoring the purely indiscriminant nature of this weapon of
    mass destruction. Far, far more children were killed than soldiers!

    Mayors for Peace and Peace Boat will be cooperating to highlight
    this next year leading up to the 70th anniversary. See our
    Facebook page: Project: “I was her age.”

    One criticism of the article: placing the bombing and the
    surrender one sentence after the other reinforces the myth of
    cause and effect. The historical record exposes this myth as
    false. The mode of surrender was already under active
    consideration by the Japanese due to the military onslaught of US
    and British forces. Their hand was forced when previously neutral
    Soviet Union joined in the onslaught on August 7, 1945. When announcing the surrender, the Emperor cited the new atomic weapon as a means of saving face for the disgraced Japanese army.

    The US knew months in advance the
    exact timing of the Russian attack and ought, in my opinion,
    to have waited to see the impact of it before committing the atrocity
    of incinerating two cities.

  • JohnCCalhounfromSC

    I guess they didn’t bother to interview any relatives of the Dec 7th attack on Pearl Harbor, or the victims who died on the Bataan Death March in 1942 or the victims of the Naking Massacre in 1937. Seems to me their view on history is a bit one sided. And I have been to both the Hiroshima Peace Memorial and the USS Arizona Memorial within the last 6 months.

    • HerrProblembear

      Yeah. How dare Japan defend itself by attacking a colonial outpost?

      • JohnCCalhounfromSC

        I think that every Japanese citizen should be required to see the 20 minute introduction video to the USS Arizona memorial.

  • DonKrieger

    Remember the Context:

    The first great act of the cold war was the partition of Europe by the Soviet Union and the US/Great Britain alliance.

    The second great act of the cold war was the obliteration of two defenseless Japanese cities with nuclear weapons by the United States. It’s primary purpose was to make clear to the Soviet Union that we had the means and the political will to cause them devastating harm. And that was its primary long term political effect.

    The notion that this act saved hundreds of thousands of American lives which would have been needed to end the war and to occupy and pacify Japan was propaganda then and it’s propaganda now. Japan was already defeated. Its ability to threaten American forces in the Pacific both by sea and by air was gone. And there was no need to occupy and pacify Japan. There was no threat within Japan of impending civil war. There was no threat of invasion of Japan by some other nation due to its vulnerability.

    I am horrified that our trusted government carried out this unnecessary and inhuman act of brutality. There is no way to step back from it or to amend it.

    I am alarmed and ashamed that we as a nation were then and are to this day still so readily willing to accept empty arguments to justify an act of ultimate cowardice, snuffing out the lives of 150,000+ lives in an instant for no reason.


    • David Victor Furman

      hummm remember the context. Would that include all of the people that the Japanese killed in China and elsewhere in Asia during the 1930’s and 1940’s, which, if you believe Japanese school books, never happened? Would that include the large number of Japanese civilians which would have been killed during the planned invasion of Japan? Oh, no wait, Japan and Germany were supposed to just be able to say, “ooops, my bad” after being forced back to their own borders after having destroyed Europe and Asia, and allowed to keep their military forces and not have any occupation by foreign forces to ensure their disarmament. The only propaganda being spread here is what you are stating. Yep, make the lie big enough and say it often enough and it will become the facts.

      • DonKrieger

        Hi David,

        You are restating an excuse for cowardice.
        Retribution has nothing to do with why we destroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
        You may believe that they deserve what they got.
        But that was not the stated purpose of what we did.

        We established ourselves as the only true nuclear terrorists in one moment. That is what history demonstrates and that was surely the purpose that our leaders had in mind.

      • David Victor Furman

        “Restating an excuse for cowardice”? Sorry Don, you’ve completely lost me on that one. I never said that retribution was the reason for the bombings, don’t put words in my mouth. The fire bombing raids (non-nuclear) of Tokyo inflicted far more casualties than the atomic bombings. In a like manner to Hamas in Gaza, who will keep firing rockets into Israel even though it is clear on balance that more harm is coming to their own people, the Japanese military was prepared to fight to the last Japanese. Would this have been a preferable outcome, regardless of the issue of Allied casualties? If the shock of the bombings persuaded at least the Emperor that it was time for Japan to “cut its losses” and surrender, then the lives of millions of people in Japan and the rest of Asia, not to mention Allied forces were spared. Were there other calculations in the decision, such as allegations it was done to impress the Soviets, perhaps, but they were not the principal factor. And you still neatly side-step my main point, that many Japanese today are refusing to accept that Japan did anything wrong and that they are undeserving victims. Not unlike the Germans after World War One who held to the belief that they had been stabbed in the back and had not really lost the war, some ultra-nationalist Japanese elements like to maintain the fiction that they did nothing wrong and that they were only driving the Western colonists out of Asia, but they omit the point that their motives in this were not altruistic, but just a matter of replacing Western masters with Japanese masters. Sorry Don, I don’t buy the revisionist history you are trying to sell.

      • DonKrieger

        Fine, David. Some Japanese refuse to acknowledge their wrongs. So what? Your refusal to understand the meaning of history in favor of rejecting what you call “revisionist” demonstrates comparable willful ignorance.

        Regarding American casualties, at the time of the bombings and for months before Japan had no ability to project power by sea or air. All we needed to do was disengage. To this point, there were US naval losses late in the war and after it ended but only because we placed our ships in the mine fields surrounding Japanese harbors.

        I give Truman and his advisors credit for the rudimentary and obvious recognition that it was the Soviet Union which was the threat, not Japan. The Japanese killed by our nuclear weapons were pawns to our message of intimidation to the Soviets. That’s why what you and so many others assert is propaganda. The reason that it was cowardice is because we only had 2 bombs. Rather than inviting witnesses and using one of them on an unpopulated area to demonstrate the power we possessed, we used it on people instead.

        On the cynical side, the forced surrender of Japan may have also benefited American corporations which profited from our substantial effort to assist in rebuilding Japan. That’s not something I’ve looked at but it fits our pattern.

        Finally, there is a parallel to the use of rockets by Hamas but it’s not the one you point out. Those rockets are an annoyance only to Israel. They have been ongoing for years and have been used as an excuse to take definitive action repeatedly. In this case the real reason appears to be the destruction of the tunnel network. If you talk to an Israeli or someone who has visited there recently, you will recognize the truth of the fact that the rockets are not the problem. Likewise, the Japanese ability to do us or our forces harm was near zero for months leading up to the bombing of Hiroshima.

      • David Victor Furman

        Huuum, and exactly what is your “meaning of history”? Yes, the US could have just continued to blockade Japan while both its entire civilian population starved to death, and its considerable overseas forces continued to sustain themselves through taking resources and starving local populations, or if trapped on some small island somewhere in the Pacific starved themselves, with this strategy resulting in not tens of thousands, but millions of deaths. As is the case with Hamas, the Japanese military leaders knew that they could never win militarily, but yet were quite willing for the entire population to die to save the military’s honor. Not unlike Hitler’s last orders to destroy Germany as they did not deserve to live because they lost the war. And that’s a nice touch there Don of accusing American humanitarian aid as being solely done in the interest of American business interests. While the Soviets and other allies were dismantling what was left of German industry as reparations for German destruction, the USA was implementing the Marshal Plan in Europe and additional aid in Japan to prevent them from starving to death. The Soviets would have done the same in mainland Japan if they had invaded and as they did in Manchuria. In a perverse way, the Soviets helped in the reconstruction of Japan by unleashing the North Korean invasion in 1950, which helped to lift Japan out of the ruins of WWII by further encouraging the rebuilding of Japan. War is a horrible event in all respects, and the fact that an atomic bomb killed many people with a single bomb is no more horrific than a fire bombing with hundreds of planes or flame throwers or biological warfare in China, or the killing of millions with bullets and bayonets. Wars are not fought by Marquis of Queensberry rules, and if a country begins an aggressive war, and proves unable to either win that war or defend its own population from the results of beginning that aggressive war, then those leaders are responsible for the resulting catastrophe, especially when it was within their power to end the conflict before it reached such a catastrophic stage. Do you really believe that the US bombed Japan with nuclear and non-nuclear bombs just for the hell of it? The Japanese military had a long time to decide to throw in the towel but for their own reasons would not do so. In fact, they even sought to prevent the broadcast of the Emperor’s surrender message. So, the blood is on their hands. They did not know whether the US had two atomic bombs or a hundred or a thousand of them, but they were apparently willing to sacrifice the entire Japanese people to save the military’s honor. And yet today, there is an element of Japanese society, akin to the holocaust deniers, who refuse to accept that Japan did anything wrong.

  • wada

    Kennedy should attend the 70th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima with your president next year and also visit The Center of the Tokyo Raids and War Damage, please.

    • HerrProblembear

      Don’t count on it. And Kennedy is useless anyway. Her ambassadorship was merely a plum assignment handed to her in exchange for her financial/political backing of Obama.

  • Ostap Bender

    The nuclear bombings were war crimes. I won’t be sad if some country drops a couple on American cities.

  • ed martinez

    1997 I met a whole family from ISRAEL in Auschwitz, Poland, among them there was a little boy of name Lior, his grandfather Leev was with him, the old man was a KZ Auschwitz´s survivor.

  • David Victor Furman

    Note that the Japanese are removing a memorial to Korean victims of Japan. Unfortunately many Japanese have a rather one sided view of what happened in WWII and think that it all began with an unprovoked nuclear attack on 6 August 1945.